World

Mike Pompeo to attend secretive Bilderberg meeting in Switzerland

AFP-JIJI

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday is scheduled to take part in a secretive meeting in Switzerland of global power brokers discreetly discussing issues like Brexit and the future of capitalism.

The State Department confirmed Saturday that Pompeo, who is on a four-nation tour of Europe, will take part in the four-day Bilderberg meeting, which kicked off Thursday in the picturesque Swiss town of Montreux.

His participation had not been previously mentioned in the official agenda and he did not figure on the list of some 130 elites from 23 countries participating in the event.

Already on the list is U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, who might use the forum to try to drum up support for his yet-to-be-unveiled Middle East peace plan.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and elder statesman Henry Kissinger also figure on the list of participants, as do Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

The group, which has met every year since 1954 and was created as a forum for fostering dialogue between Europe and North America, is this year discussing a range of topics such as climate change, the future of capitalism, the ethics of artificial intelligence, China, Russia and Brexit, the organizers said.

The Trump administration has taken strong and controversial stances on a number of the topics on the agenda, including swelling tensions with Beijing, complex relations with Moscow and a more than skeptical attitude to calls to fight climate change.

Pompeo himself recently hailed that climate change was helping open new sea routes in the usually frozen Arctic.

The luxury hotel where the talks are taking place has placed high bushes all around its perimeters to keep the press at bay.

The participants are, meanwhile, held to the so-called Chatham House rule, meaning that participants are free to use the information received, but may not reveal the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker.

The secretive nature of the group has given birth to conspiracy theories.

Some have warned, for example, that Bilderberg is a group of rich and powerful kingmakers seeking to impose a one-world government.

Pompeo arrived in Switzerland on Friday on the second leg of his European tour, following a stop in Berlin and before traveling on to the Hague and London.

On Saturday morning, he and his wife, Susan, had a guided tour of Bern’s Old Town, and on Sunday he is due to meet with his Swiss counterpart, Ignazio Cassis.

Asked why he chose to stay for so long in Switzerland — from Friday afternoon through Monday morning, Pompeo told a group of journalists traveling with him that he is a “big cheese and chocolate fan.”